Districtwide focus on arts education boosts Boston schools

Yvonne Abraham’s column “Sounds a bit like progress” (Metro, Jan. 20) highlights the role of reinvigorating arts education at English High School as a part of the school’s turnaround strategy. While the arts are just one element of the school’s aggressive improvement plan, English High and a number of other schools in Boston have discovered that the arts can play a key role in engaging students and improving school climate.

Headmaster Ligia Noriega-Murphy, music teacher Eytan Wurman, and the students are on the right track. Boston public schools such as English High have benefited from the districtwide focus on increasing arts through the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative, which launched in 2009 with leadership and support from Superintendent Carol Johnson, Mayor Thomas Menino, and private funders as well as principals, teachers, and arts and cultural partners around the city.

Today, 14,000 more students receive arts instruction during the school day. The district and schools have increased the funding for arts teachers since 2009 as well. Improving Boston’s schools is a complicated business, but drawing entire school communities together through the arts is an important piece of the puzzle.

Laura Perille


The writer is executive director of EdVestors and co-chairwoman of the working committee of the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative.